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CHRISTIANITY AS ORGANIZED
ITS IDEAS AND FORMS
JOHN A. KERN
PROPLSSOR OT PRACTICAL THEOLOGY IN VANDER JILT
We think ourselves obliged frequently to view and review the whole
'Tis the work of a life till our lump be leaven-
- Browning, "Old Pictures in Florence."
NASHVILLE, Tenn.; DALLAS, Tex.
MY COMRADES IN CONFERENCE
IN THE SERVICE OF OUR MASTER
UNDER AN ECCLESIASTICAL POLITY
HAPPILY ADAPTED TO THE CONDITIONS IN WHICH IT AROSE
SINGULARLY SUCCESSFUL HITHERTO
PROMISEFUL FOR THE FUTURE
LIABLE OF NECESSITY TO ABUSE COMMENSURATE WITH
ITS GREAT AGGRESSIVE FORCE
The stateliness of houses, the goodliness of trees, when we behold them, delighteth the eye; but the foundation which beareth up the one, the root which ministereth unto the other, is in the bosom of the earth concealed; and if there be occasion at any time to search into it, such labor is then more necessary than pleasant, both to them that undertake it and for the lookers
In like manner, the use and benefit of good Laws all that live under them may enjoy with delight and comfort, albeit the grounds and first original causes from whence they have sprung be unknown, as to the greatest part of men they are.—Richard Hooker. Ideas make the world we live in.—Helen Keller.
CHRISTIANITY, as it becomes a common faith and experience, will draw people together into congregations, or churches. Moreover, it will develop in these churches various offices of oversight and ministration. Thus it organizes itself for doing the work of Christ in the world.
Church organization, therefore, so far as it bears the name worthily, is not something apart from Christian faith and experience. On the contrary, it is an outer form of the inner spiritual life. Most truly speaking, it is Christianity as organized.
In a study of Christianity, however, organization would not be generally chosen as its most attractive aspect. It has too much the appearance of legal mechanism. Also, it has provoked a great deal of discreditable controversy-in this respect standing by no means alone—and may seem to tend practically to division rather than unity in the Christian world.
No wonder, then, that certain sincere minds should be disposed to pass by such a theme with a very moderate amount of attention. Yet in point of fact it is full-laden with interest and significance. If the reader find it otherwise, the fault will be the writer's—or possibly his own.
Not, indeed, that the structural forms of even so transcendent a truth as Christianity must need be interesting for their own sake and in themselves. They are nothing in themselves; but as an expression of the movements of a great and abundant life within, they do possess the power of exciting perpetual interest. This, to be sure, is true of everything: the inner is the real. The letters are not the word: the thing seen is not the reality. Out of the horror of burning a live human body to a hideous cinder there may go forth a universal inspiration to that which is true and good; but all because of the truth of self-sacrifice which the murdered martyr embodies. What measure of interest would be awakened by a human face but for the invisible soul that appears in it? The “expression"—the unseen self visual